Thursday, September 11, 2008

Leaving Moscow, leaving Europe


At his flat Alexander gave me our tickets to Pyongyang. This time it was not possible to make a combination with the Slovakian Citystar-Ticket, as the ticketsellers at MZA refused to issue such a ticket (meaning a ticket only from Ussurijsk with an reservation from Irkutsk).
Alexander told me about this fact before, but it was already too late to give the Citystar-Ticket back. But he said he can use my Citystar-ticket some of his clients travelling from Moscow to Siberia. So I used it till Moscow and sold it to him. In Bratislava I bought an additional Moskva – Irkutsk one-way-ticket for me.
As we wanted to travel in our own compartment (we thought, that the only possibility to take photos inside North Korea is from inside the compartment without being watched by Koreans...), we bought four tickets for the trip to Pyongyang. We wanted to buy the additional two tickets only from Ussurijsk instead of Irkutsk, but that was not possible, as the Russian booking system does not know a reservation price for Ussurijsk – Pyongyang. So we bought two tickets + reservations Habarovsk – Pyongyang (and of course two tickets + reservations Irkutsk - Pyongyang). All that was not cheap, but how often in life one travels this interesing route? Money was not really a question this time...

After breakfast, some talks and a shower we drove to Kazansky station. En-route we made a stop at the MZA-office to issue my tickets Novosibirsk – Barnaul – Novosibirsk, which I booked online via
At about 12:50 we arrived at Kazansky station and I boarded train no. 118 to Novokuznezk. As expected my reserved place was in a car with additional service (also called "ekonom-klass”). Due to some reservation-system problems at the time of buying the reservation, in Austria it was only possible to book places in male/female-compartments, but not in mixed compartments. And the male/female-compartments are usually in cars with additional services, where food is included in the price. The reservation price in the international fare is of course the same irrespective of the level of service.
Of course my strange looking tickets and reservation issued in Slovakia/Austria surprised the conductors, but after I explained the tickets and showed a self-written paper with detailed explanations, they accepted my travel documents. After some time the crew of the dining car came again to ask me about my tickets. They wanted to know whether the food is included also in my ticket. I explained that the remark "mit Zuschlag” means "s uslugami" and that the food is included. According to the official rules this is not exactly true, but nobody really knows this rules...

2nd class ticket Moskva - Irkutsk, bought in Slovakia during my stop at Bratislava main station two days before:

Reservation Moskva - Novosibirsk, bought in Austria:

I said goodbye to Alexander and punctually at 13:19 the train departed.
My car (fortunately an unmodernized, typical Ammendorf-car) was not full, about 50% of the places were occupied at Moscow. "ekonom klass” is quite expensive in Russian domestic fare, so people usually prefer to travel in usual cars.
In my compartment there was another man, he was travelling to Amsya, where the train arrived next day in the morning.

The further train trip to Novosibirsk was not really spectacular. My car got quite empty during the 2nd day, and I had my own compartment after Amsya. Hot meals were served two times daily.

At Moskva Kazanskaya station

At Vekovka station:

Train no. 76 Moskva - Tynda was running some minutes ahead of our train (no. 118, Moskva - Novokuznezk) between Moskva Kazanskaya (dep 13:11 and 13:18) and Sverdlovsk (arr. one day later at 17:09 and 17:17) , and so I often saw this trains at stations with longer stops...


Compared to the temperatures in Austria or en-route in Slovakia and Ukraine it was already really cold here in Russia at that time. Maybe 10 degrees, not more. Whereas on the day before in Ukraine I was happy about the working air-condition, now I was happy about the working heating ;-)


At Amsya station:

(the locomotives on the signs look rather familiar...)

In the Ural mountains:

Before reaching Druzhinino the two tracks of the railway line take different ways for about 20 km. It's more like two single-track lines.

Here we met again the westbound track. It looks as they are double-tracking this line now, maybe it will also be used for eastbound trains in the future and the line, which is now used by eastbound trains, maybe will then be abandoned.

Old and new single-track bridge

At Druzhinino:

Again the train to Tynda with through car Moskva - Tommot:

Station Revda:

Lake near Yekaterinburg:

Arriving at Sverdlovsk Passashirsky (in 2008 the railway station still had the old name "Sverdlovsk" instead of "Yekaterinburg"):

Much luggage is loaded in the Kazakh train to Almaty:


Sleeping car Minsk - Almaty:

Sunset east of Yekaterinburg:

Night stop at Tyumen:


Omsk station:

Traffic light for pedestrians:

Train 54 Harkov - Vladivostok with through car Kiev - Vladivostok:

Train 54 is an interesting train: The actual train is very short, maybe 5 cars are running from Harkov (or points west thereof) to Vladivostok. But during the ride additional cars are added consequentlyto the head of the train: Penza - Vladivostok, Samara - Vladivostok, Ufa - Vladivostok, Celyabinsk - Vladivostok etc. And on the rear end of the train cars are consequently detached from the train: Harkov - Novosibirsk, Harkov - Irkutsk, Harkov - Chita, etc.
So the train grows on the head and shrinks on the rear end and so the total length of the train doesn't vary much. Don't ask me, why they don't run only for example one Harkov - Vladivostok car instead of one Harkov - Celyabinsk and one Celyabinsk - Vladivostok. The separation in Celyabinsk can also be done virtually in the Express-system...


The step of Barabinsk:

At Barabinsk:

Another ChS2 is coupled to train 118:

New EP2K-012 locomotive:

At Ubinskaya train 118 is overtaken by train 54:


My compartment:

At 16:39 the train arrived at Novosibirsk:

Moscow (16:49) and local time (19:49):


At 17:28 I continued with train 601 (Novosibirsk - Biysk) to Barnaul. The ticket Novosibirsk - Barnaul:

I did the trip in a seating car. At 22:40 (1:40 local time) the train arrived at Barnaul and I went to the hotel near the station to get some sleep...



Eurasia 2005: ~35.000 km by train from Europe via Ukraine, Russia and Mongolia to China and back to Europe via Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan:

Total solar eclipse 2008: Trip to the total solar eclipse in the Altay mountains (1st august 2008), including a 6-day trekking trip: